108 Webster Hall
PO Box: AC# 2242
413-542-7919
Please call the college operator at 413-542-2000 or e-mail info@amherst.edu if you require contact info@amherst.edu

Wako Tawa

Willem Schupf Professor in Asian Languages and Civilizations and Director of Language Study

Departmental affiliation:Asian Languages and Civilizations

Courses

Professional and Biographical Information

Degrees

Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University (1986)
M.A., International Christian University (1975)
B.A., State University of New York at Buffalo (1971)
A.M. (honorary), Amherst College (2000)

Teaching interests

I direct the Japanese Language Program within the Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations. Our program offers a variety of Japanese courses, from beginning to advanced levels. The strength of our program is the ability to teach each student the importance of understanding the logical part of the language (grammatical structures) thoroughly, the culturally appropriate uses of the language (pragmatic aspects), and how to be an independent learner of this language. Focusing on these aspects entails teaching each student to restructure her or his cognitive structures in a conscious way (I call this approach the metacognitive approach). In the very beginning of this restructuring process, the difficulty that every student faces is the coordination of the separate skills (speaking, reading, writing, and listening), which they eventually have to use simultaneously. Until the simultaneous language act becomes possible, we provide instruction and practice for each separate skill in a way that suits each individual student’s needs (I call this method the stage-step method). Details of this approach and method can be found at www.amherst.edu/~asian/japanese.html.

Recent awards and honors

Arthur Vining Davis Foundation, 2009-2011 ($150,000)
T
eaching Japanese grammar at high school and grammar approach in the category 4 languages

Grant from the Shoyu Club, Japan, 2006
Classroom renovation and summer outreach program

Faculty Research Awards, Amherst College, 2005, 2004, 2002, 2000, 1989

The William R. Kenan, Jr. Professorship, Amherst College, 2004

Senior Sabbatical Fellowship, Amherst College, 2002

Named Bruss Reader, Amherst College, 2000-2002

The Japan Foundation, 1999
The Japanese Language Teaching Materials Donation Program

The Culpeper Foundation, 1998
For textbook and software development

 

See also: Research Interests and Selected Publications